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Handicapping the Next British Chief Rabbi

Rabbi Michael Broyde–Tablet contributor–is the frontrunner

Adam Chandler
August 08, 2012
(The Pope with Lord Jonathan Sacks)
(The Pope with Lord Jonathan Sacks)

The Times of Israel is reporting that Rabbi Michael Broyde is leading the contenders for The Next Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. (Okay, it’s not a reality competition show, although if a rabbi wanted to reach a younger constituency, this might be the way to do.)

The sheer number of factors that go into picking a new chief rabbi have inspired The Scroll to handicap the field and provide some background on who may be one of the most influential Jewish leaders in the years to come.

Rabbi Michael Broyde

Rabbi Broyde is probably as famous as a law professor can be, among many things, he teaches at Emory University and serves as a dayan (religious judge) on the Beth Din of America, the country’s biggest religious court. Broyde is being backed by the chancellor of Yeshiva University who calls Broyde “the finest mind of his generation.” Broyde also co-scribed this Tablet piece last week on the immensely influential Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv who died last month and whose mourners numbered a quarter of a million.

Odds: 7/2
Scoop: Sources indicate that Broyde may have entered salary discussions with the selection committee. Although it remains unclear that he would even take the job–a fact that may both stun and further entice the selection committee.

Where Broyde may represent an old school pick, there is an another contender who might shake things up.

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

Another candidate still in strong contention is Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan. He interviewed for the chief rabbinical post last month in London and was, at that time at least, being actively wooed by members of the search committee.

The source close to the process – who requested anonymity — claims that several people found Soloveichik “majestic” during the interview.

Odds: 9/1
Scoop: For an institution sometimes viewed as out of touch, Soloveichik may be an effective tonic.

The Field

Meanwhile Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center in New York will have his first face-to-face interview in London in the last week of August and could emerge as a late spoiler.

Odds for the Field: 4/1
Scoop: Given the intricacies of the selection process and the amount of surprises possible, the chances that the new chief rabbi is either a different star rabbi or a native Englishman still remain high.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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